Sunday 9-11 – Ten Years Later

Good afternoon.  Today is the tenth anniversary of the attacks on American soil.  I started the day by going to the 9/11 Flight Crew Memorial here in Grapevine.  This memorial is just a few miles from my home and is dedicated to the 33 crew members who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 on American Airlines flights #11 and #77 and United Airlines flights #93 and #175.

In 2001, I was still working for American Airlines.  I had just a few months earlier been given the opportunity to transition into a job-share position which is something I really wanted so I could further purse my love of photography and to grow our photography business.  That faithful morning was my day of the week to work in the marketing position my peer Anne Weidner share.  She was at home that day caring for her newborn son, Roman – which is why she had been interested in us creating a job-share position.  It was one of the first cool days in awhile, very much like this morning.  I had gone outside of our home to load the car with what I needed to take to work that morning and went back inside for something else and the television was on.

Without knowing, I knew something big had to be going on because Steve hates having the tv on before 6 pm unless it is a weekend and I couldn’t imagine why he might have had it on.  But our friend Bud, a past neighbor at our previous home had called to alert us and told Steve to turn it on.  By that time both World Trade Center towers had been hit – it was about 8 am.  We didn’t leave the couch until about noon and during that time, we saw the first tower fall before the media was even aware what was happening on the television screens behind them, I talked to one of my co-workers from AA who told me not to bother coming in because they were all crowded around the tvs available in the building we worked in and as our positions were not critical it was better to stay out of the way.  Sometime that morning, I spoke with Anne and we discussed how busy heaven was that morning.  The rest of the day was a blur and by the time Jazzercise time came around that evening, Steve encouraged me to turn off the tv and go work out.  I remember punching out the frustration to the unknown villain trying to work off some of the pressure inside.  Ironically, it was probably about noon that we realized that my car door had been left open all morning waiting for me to hop in and drive to work.

That day obviously changed everything in our worlds, our lives, at American Airlines and throughout the rest of the airline / travel industry.   So to spend the morning at the memorial created to honor the fallen airline personnel from that day made so much sense.

The sun rises to the East as mourners arrive for the memorial and a flight departs DFW Airport.
View from the north looking south towards the resident flags.

These little guys probably weren't even a glimmer in their families future in 2001.
I found this foursome quite poetic especially with the fire trucks in the background.
The sun crests The Wolf Creek Lodge which has been built in the last 10 years with the memorial flag.
An American Airlines pilot shows his emotion as the sunrises.

A family member of one of the United passengers who lost his life read the crew members names aloud.

After the names of the crew members were read off, there was a long silence.  My thoughts went to what was going on within the aircraft for each of the four flights for not just the flight crews but with the passengers.  The hysteria and fear because their safe passage of travel had been breached.  And then I thought of the innocent people in the first tower who were just working away or visiting with others at the copy machine, making copies or checking email.  They had no clue what was about to hit them.

Then the bell was rung four times and even though I found myself holding my breath, to know that that was then the beginning of the chaos and grief that would come.

At 7:46 am the Grapevine Fire Department fire bell was rung four times for the four flights that were lost.
And then the flag was lowered to half staff for the day of mourning.

When the U.S. Flag was lowered to half staff, I was reminded of the flags flying at half staff at American Airlines throughout my career.  How every time you would see a flag at half staff at AA HDQ regarding a flight was as though we had lost another family member.

Two gentlemen, one a retired American Airlines pilot played Taps in tandom.

An American Airlines flight seem to take off in our direction with it's own salute.

It was so poignant to see the families of young and older there this morning to share the moments together.

Please take some time to visit the Grapevine city website for the memorial especially the page that goes into detail as to the design and symbolism of the memorial.

American Airlines pilot Captain Jim Estes and his wife & former AA Flight Attendant Keri

I met Keri last year on Mother’s Day, about a month after her mom passed away. It was the beginning of a great friendship.  As my mom passed away before 9-11 and we don’t have children in our family, Mother’s Days aren’t that great of days for me. I will now always associate Mother’s Day with missing my mom and how long I have had a little Keri mothering in my life.

In my opinion, Keri could win Mother of the Year award everyday because she is a mother to everyone.  When she and I visited Friday afternoon, she mentioned that they would be attending the memorial and left it at that.  She was there with Jim with Kleenex in tow for not only me but for the lady next to us too.

Jim embodies what you would expect of a captain of an airship plus he can grill up a mean Alaskan salmon that he has brought home from a flight or a Thanksgiving turkey.  Jim and Keri, thank you for sharing this memory with me.

A boy scout stands guard of the monument to the North for the day.

The Boy Scouts were there along with all the other service organizations involved.  And the fact that there is one of them at every point of the Compass Rose for every hour of today until the closing ceremony at 7:30pm tonight was touching as well.

Another boy scout is on West side of the monument and the ground plackard references that all the flights were headed West that day.

Tonight, one of the flags from the service held at the 9/11 Memorial this morning in New York, will arrive by airplane and will be presented at the memorial at 7:30pm along with other moving music and videos.

After the Grapevine memorial this morning, I ran to church for our 8:30am service at St. Laurence Church.  It was so good to see the parking lot packed again as today was the first day of Sunday School and getting back to normal church after the summer schedule.  The Old Testament reading was Ecclesiasticus 27:30-28:7 which starts “Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, yet a sinner holds on to them.  The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance, for He keeps a strict account of their sins.  Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.”

Both Father Jordan’s sermon and the words spoken at the memorial were about forgiveness.  We must forgive but we will always remember.

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